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What is the Most Dangerous Sport? Top High-Risk Activities

Heorhii Rysak

What spikes adrenaline yet holds an inherent risk that few can overlook—the quest for the most dangerous sport by injuries. Ever wondered which sport claims this dubious honor and why? The thrill of competition often comes with a price, but how high is that price when safety is on the line?

Surfacing as the heavyweight in this perilous ranking is none other than American football. With a staggering count of concussions, fractures, and career-ending injuries, this sport stands apart in its injury rate. Figures and studies back the claim, positioning it as a fierce contender in the arena of risk.

So brace yourselves, and let’s delve into the compelling world of sports where every play could be a game-changer, literally and figuratively. Ready to discover which sport truly tests the limits of human endurance and resilience?

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The Most Dangerous Sport by Injuries – Table

Within the realm of athletic pursuits, some sports carry a greater risk of injury than others. It is crucial to understand the impact of these injuries, especially when it comes to the well-being of young athletes. In the following table, we examine the statistics on sports with the most injuries among 5- to 24-year-olds, comparing the data between 2017 and 2021.

The stats show a drop in injuries for sports like baseball and basketball, yet an uptick in skateboarding incidents. This indicates that safety measures are working, but more attention is needed.

Decreases in injury rates in certain sports reflect the effective safety efforts of those involved in athletics. Going forward, it’s crucial to keep supporting safety research and education to ensure young athletes can safely enjoy their sports.


2017 injuries (5- to 24-year-olds)

2021 injuries (5- to 24-year-olds) 

% change since 2017





















Lacrosse, rugby




Racquet sports












Swimming, pools, equipment




What is the Most Dangerous Sport in the Word?


Baseball, America’s pastime, may seem like a relatively safe sport, but beneath its seemingly serene surface lies a world of potential hazards. Each swing of the bat and sprint between bases carries with it a level of risk that players willingly embrace. Let’s delve into the numbers and facts that highlight the dangers inherent in this beloved sport.

Pitching Perils

Pitchers, the backbone of any baseball team, face a high risk of injury due to the intense strain placed on their arms. According to a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, pitching-related injuries accounted for approximately 59% of all baseball injuries. Common ailments include elbow and shoulder injuries, with pitchers frequently undergoing surgeries such as Tommy John and rotator cuff repairs.

Sliding into Danger

Base stealing and sliding, a thrilling aspect of the game, can also lead to significant injuries. A study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that sliding-related injuries accounted for 27.1% of all baseball injuries. These injuries often include sprains, fractures, and contusions, particularly to the hands and fingers.

Collisions at the Plate

Home plate collisions, where a runner attempts to score by colliding with the catcher, have long been a contentious aspect of the game. Such collisions can result in severe injuries, including concussions, broken bones, and joint dislocations. In response to safety concerns, Major League Baseball implemented new rules in 2014 to limit unnecessary contact at home plate.

Fastballs and Foul Balls

The speed at which baseballs are thrown and hit poses a significant danger to players. Pitchers regularly throw fastballs exceeding 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), while batters strive to make solid contact. This velocity increases the risk of pitchers getting struck by line drives, often causing head and facial injuries. Foul balls rocketing into the stands also pose a threat to spectators, with numerous instances of fans being struck and injured.

Overuse Injuries

Baseball’s rigorous schedule can take a toll on players’ bodies, leading to overuse injuries. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 50% of youth baseball injuries are due to overuse. These injuries are often a result of repetitive throwing motions, such as pitchers exceeding recommended pitch counts or playing on multiple teams simultaneously.

While baseball captivates fans with its strategic gameplay and rich history, it’s crucial to acknowledge the physical risks involved. From the strain on pitchers’ arms to the potential for collisions and the velocity of the game, the numbers and facts paint a picture of a sport that demands caution and proper training. However, for those who love the game, the rewards of competition, teamwork, and the thrill of stepping onto the field outweigh the inherent dangers.


While basketball is often associated with fast-paced action and thrilling plays, it is also a sport that carries inherent risks and potential for injuries. Let’s explore the numbers and facts that highlight the dangers players face on the basketball court.

High Injury Rates

Basketball ranks among the sports with the highest injury rates. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, basketball accounted for over 700,000 injuries treated in emergency departments in the United States alone. Sprains, strains, fractures, and concussions are common injuries suffered by basketball players.

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are particularly prevalent in basketball, with studies showing that they account for approximately 45% of all reported injuries. The quick lateral movements, abrupt changes in direction, and frequent jumping put immense stress on players’ ankles, making them susceptible to sprains and ligament tears.

Knee Injuries

Basketball players are also at risk of knee injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. Studies indicate that ACL injuries are more likely to occur in females playing basketball than in their male counterparts. The high-impact nature of the sport, combined with biomechanical factors, increases the vulnerability of players’ knees to serious injuries.

Facial Injuries

The fast-paced nature of basketball and the close proximity of players can lead to facial injuries, including fractures, contusions, and dental trauma. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that facial injuries accounted for approximately 10% of all basketball injuries. These injuries often occur during collisions, inadvertent contact, or when players are struck by an elbow or a ball.

Overuse Injuries

Basketball’s demanding nature can result in overuse injuries, particularly in young athletes. Constant jumping, repetitive movements, and intense training can lead to conditions such as patellar tendonitis, shin splints, and stress fractures. Proper rest, conditioning, and monitoring of training loads are crucial in mitigating the risk of overuse injuries.

While the game of basketball offers excitement, teamwork, and the opportunity for personal growth, it is essential to acknowledge and address the potential risks involved. From the high rate of injuries to the specific vulnerabilities of ankles, knees, and the face, basketball requires players to be mindful of their bodies and engage in proper conditioning and injury prevention measures. By prioritizing safety and adopting best practices, athletes can continue to enjoy the intensity and thrill of basketball while minimizing the potential dangers that come with it.


While bicycles offer a sense of freedom and adventure, it’s important to recognize that this seemingly innocuous mode of transportation comes with its fair share of dangers. Let’s delve into the numbers and facts that shed light on the risks associated with cycling.

High Accident Rates

Cycling accidents are a prevalent concern, with statistics revealing a significant number of incidents each year. In the United States, for instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported over 800 bicyclist fatalities and 45,000 injuries in a single year. These figures highlight the inherent dangers cyclists face on the road.

Collisions with Vehicles

One of the primary risks cyclists encounter is collisions with motor vehicles. According to a study published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, nearly 75% of cycling accidents involve a collision with a vehicle. These incidents can result in severe injuries, including fractures, head trauma, and internal organ damage.

Vulnerability to Head Injuries

Cyclists are particularly susceptible to head injuries, making helmet use essential for protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by up to 60%. Shockingly, only about 50% of cyclists wear helmets regularly, leaving them exposed to potentially life-altering head trauma.

Road Hazards and Obstacles

Cycling hazards extend beyond vehicular collisions. Cyclists must navigate a range of road hazards and obstacles, including potholes, uneven surfaces, debris, and unexpected barriers. These dangers can cause cyclists to lose control, leading to falls and injuries such as abrasions, fractures, and sprains.

Risk of Fatalities

Unfortunately, cycling accidents can have fatal outcomes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cycling accounts for approximately 2% of all traffic fatalities globally. The vulnerability of cyclists on the road underscores the importance of promoting awareness, implementing safety measures, and advocating for improved infrastructure to protect cyclists’ lives.

While cycling provides numerous physical and mental health benefits, it’s crucial to acknowledge the risks involved. By understanding the high accident rates, the dangers of collisions with vehicles, the vulnerability to head injuries, the challenges posed by road hazards, and the potential for fatalities, cyclists can take proactive measures to enhance their safety. Wearing helmets, following traffic rules, utilizing proper signaling, and remaining vigilant on the road are essential steps in minimizing the inherent dangers associated with this thrilling sport.


Boxing, often hailed as the “sweet science,” is a sport that demands tremendous physical skill and mental fortitude. However, it’s crucial to recognize that behind the glory and excitement lies a dangerous realm with significant risks. Let’s delve into the numbers and facts that shed light on the hazards associated with boxing.

Head Trauma and Brain Injuries

Boxing’s most significant concern is the potential for head trauma and long-term brain injuries. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that professional boxers have a high prevalence of chronic traumatic brain injury, leading to conditions such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). According to the Journal of Combative Sport, approximately 90% of boxers experience head injuries during their careers.

Risk of Concussions

Concussions are a prevalent consequence of boxing bouts. Research published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine indicated that professional boxers experience an average of 6.1 concussions per 1,000 rounds fought. These concussions can lead to immediate cognitive impairment, long-term neurological deficits, and increased susceptibility to future brain injuries.

Eye Injuries

Boxing’s physical nature also puts fighters at risk of severe eye injuries. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that retinal detachments, orbital fractures, and corneal injuries are common in boxing. Eye injuries can result in vision impairment, permanent damage, and even career-ending consequences.

Cardiovascular Stress

Boxing is an intense sport that places significant cardiovascular demands on the body. The American Heart Association states that boxers often experience high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and elevated stress on the heart during training and bouts. The combination of rigorous training regimens, weight-cutting practices, and the physicality of the sport can increase the risk of cardiovascular events.

Overall Injury Rates

Boxing is known for its high injury rates. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that amateur boxers experienced an injury rate of 12.4 per 1,000 hours of exposure, while professional boxers faced a rate of 30.8 per 1,000 hours. These injuries encompass a wide range, including fractures, sprains, cuts, and contusions.

The inherent dangers of boxing underscore the importance of safety measures, medical supervision, and stringent regulations within the sport. Protective equipment, including mouthguards and headgear, aims to mitigate the risks, but the potential for long-term health consequences remains a sobering reality. Recognizing the prevalence of head trauma, the risks of concussions, the likelihood of eye injuries, cardiovascular stress, and the overall injury rates are crucial in understanding the true nature of this combat sport.


Hockey, a fast-paced and intense sport, is not without its share of dangers. To grasp the risks involved in this thrilling game, let’s delve into the numbers and facts surrounding the hazards of hockey.

Head Injuries

Concussions are a significant concern in hockey. A study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery reports that concussions account for nearly 22% of all injuries in youth hockey players. Additionally, a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information reveals that concussions accounted for 29% of all injuries among players aged 10 to 17 in the 2018-2019 season.

Facial Injuries

Hockey players are at risk of sustaining facial injuries due to high-speed collisions, contact with sticks or pucks, and fights. According to a study published in the journal Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, facial injuries accounted for 15% to 30% of all hockey injuries, with fractures and lacerations being common outcomes.

Eye Injuries

The risk of eye injuries in hockey is significant. The Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology reports that eye injuries account for approximately 3% to 25% of all hockey injuries. These injuries can range from minor abrasions to severe trauma, including retinal detachments and fractures of the orbital bones.

Musculoskeletal Injuries

Hockey’s physical nature makes players susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries. According to a study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 40% to 57% of all hockey injuries, with sprains, strains, and fractures being prevalent. The study also highlights that the knee is the most commonly injured body part.

Dental Injuries

Hockey players face a considerable risk of dental injuries due to the high-speed nature of the game and the potential for contact with sticks or pucks. The Journal of the American Dental Association reports that dental injuries accounted for approximately 9% to 20% of all hockey injuries, with fractured teeth and jaw injuries being common occurrences.

Understanding the hazards of hockey is crucial for implementing safety measures and protecting players’ well-being. Efforts such as improved helmet designs, stricter penalty enforcement, and increased education on safe play aim to mitigate risks. Nonetheless, the prevalence of head injuries, facial injuries, eye injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, and dental injuries underscores the importance of ongoing vigilance and proper protective equipment in the game of hockey.

Lacrosse, Rugby

Lacrosse and rugby are high-impact sports that demand physicality, speed, and agility from their participants. Let’s explore the dangers associated with these sports through a compilation of numbers and facts:


Both lacrosse and rugby pose a significant risk of concussions. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that concussions accounted for approximately 22% of all injuries in lacrosse. In rugby, research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that concussion rates range from 1.2 to 6.9 per 1,000 player hours.

Musculoskeletal Injuries

The fast-paced nature of lacrosse and rugby makes players susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries. A study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine found that sprains, strains, and fractures accounted for approximately 63% of all lacrosse injuries. In rugby, a report by the Rugby Football Union shows that knee injuries are the most common, representing 25% of all reported injuries.

Facial Injuries

Due to the physical contact involved, both sports carry a risk of facial injuries. A study in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery reported that facial injuries accounted for approximately 9% of all lacrosse injuries, with lacerations being the most common type. In rugby, the New Zealand Rugby Injury and Performance Project revealed that facial injuries constituted 7% of all reported injuries.

Spinal Injuries

Although relatively rare, lacrosse and rugby can result in severe spinal injuries. The American Journal of Sports Medicine reports that lacrosse players accounted for 11.7% of all high school and 12.4% of all college sports-related cervical spine injuries. In rugby, a review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that spinal cord injuries occur at a rate of 2.4 per 100,000 players.

Dental Injuries

Both sports present a risk of dental injuries due to the potential for contact and falls. A study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association found that dental injuries accounted for approximately 4% of all lacrosse injuries, with fractured teeth being the most common outcome. In rugby, research in the British Dental Journal indicates that approximately 40% of players reported dental injuries during their careers.

Recognizing the inherent risks, efforts have been made to enhance safety measures in lacrosse and rugby, including rule changes, equipment improvements, and injury prevention programs. However, the prevalence of concussions, musculoskeletal injuries, facial injuries, spinal injuries, and dental injuries emphasizes the importance of continued vigilance and proper protective gear in these physically demanding sports.

Racquet Sports

Racquet sports, such as tennis, badminton, and squash, offer a unique blend of skill, strategy, and athleticism. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that these sports also come with certain risks. Let’s explore some numbers and facts regarding the dangers associated with racquet sports:

Sprains and Strains

Racquet sports involve quick, explosive movements, increasing the risk of sprains and strains. According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, ankle sprains are the most common injury in racquet sports, accounting for approximately 17% of all reported injuries.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis players are particularly susceptible to a condition known as “tennis elbow” or lateral epicondylitis. Research in the American Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that tennis elbow accounts for 35-50% of all tennis-related injuries. The repetitive nature of swinging a racquet can lead to pain and inflammation in the tendons of the forearm.

Eye Injuries

Racquet sports involve fast-moving balls that can pose a risk to the eyes. A study in the Journal of Ophthalmology found that eye injuries in squash accounted for 17% of all reported injuries, with direct ball impact being the primary cause. Protective eyewear is recommended to reduce the risk of serious eye injuries in racquet sports.

Shoulder Injuries

The overhead motions involved in racquet sports can place stress on the shoulder joint. A review published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport reported that shoulder injuries represented approximately 7% of all tennis injuries, with rotator cuff strains and shoulder impingement being the most common.

Back Injuries

Racquet sports often require repetitive twisting and bending motions, which can lead to back injuries. A study in the journal Sports Health revealed that lower back pain accounted for 14% of all reported injuries in badminton. The constant rotation and lateral movements involved in these sports can strain the muscles and structures of the spine.

While racquet sports offer numerous physical and mental benefits, it’s important for participants to be aware of the potential risks involved. Warming up properly, using correct techniques, and wearing appropriate protective gear, such as supportive footwear and eye protection, can help mitigate the chances of injury. Additionally, seeking professional coaching and practicing good sportsmanship can contribute to a safer and more enjoyable experience on the court.


Skateboarding is an exhilarating sport that combines skill, creativity, and an element of danger. While it offers a unique form of self-expression and freedom, it’s important to recognize the inherent risks involved. Let’s explore some numbers and facts about the dangers associated with skateboarding:


Skateboarding is known for its high injury rate. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, skateboarding is responsible for over 100,000 emergency room visits annually in the United States alone. In fact, it has one of the highest rates of injury among all sports and recreational activities.

Fractures and Sprains

Skateboarding often involves high-speed maneuvers and tricks, making fractures and sprains common injuries. The wrists and ankles are particularly vulnerable. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that fractures and sprains account for over half of all skateboarding injuries.

Head Injuries

The risk of head injuries is a major concern in skateboarding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that skateboarding is responsible for a significant number of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among youth. Wearing a properly fitted helmet is essential to reduce the risk of head trauma while skateboarding.

Road Hazards

Skateboarding often takes place on public roads and skate parks with various obstacles. Uneven pavement, debris, and unexpected obstacles can increase the risk of falls and collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlights the importance of skateboarders being aware of their surroundings and adhering to traffic rules to minimize accidents.

Impact of Protective Gear

Studies have shown that wearing protective gear, including helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards, can significantly reduce the severity of injuries in skateboarding. Research published in the Journal of Safety Research found that helmet use reduced the risk of head injuries by approximately 50%.

Skateboarding can be an exciting and rewarding activity, but it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Learning proper techniques, practicing in designated areas, and wearing protective gear are essential steps to minimize the risks. Additionally, receiving guidance from experienced skateboarders and understanding one’s skill level can contribute to a safer and more enjoyable skateboarding experience.


Soccer, also known as football, is a globally popular sport that captivates millions of players and spectators alike. While it is loved for its teamwork, athleticism, and competitive spirit, it’s important to recognize that soccer carries certain risks. Let’s explore some numbers and facts about the potential dangers associated with the sport:

Injury Rates

Soccer is considered a high-impact sport, and injuries are common. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, soccer accounts for a significant number of youth sports injuries. In fact, the sport is responsible for approximately 12% of all sports-related emergency room visits among children aged 5 to 14.


Head injuries, including concussions, are a particular concern in soccer. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that soccer has one of the highest rates of concussion among youth sports. Heading the ball, collisions with other players, or falls can contribute to head injuries, emphasizing the importance of proper technique and head protection.

Ankle Sprains

Soccer involves frequent changes in direction, sudden stops, and rapid acceleration, making ankle sprains a common occurrence. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine states that ankle sprains account for a significant proportion of soccer-related injuries. Wearing proper footwear and performing strengthening exercises can help reduce the risk of ankle injuries.

Knee Injuries

The fast-paced nature of soccer exposes players to potential knee injuries. The American Journal of Sports Medicine reports that anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are prevalent among soccer players, particularly in females. Proper warm-up exercises, strengthening programs, and maintaining proper form during movements can help minimize the risk of knee injuries.

Overuse Injuries

Soccer players are prone to overuse injuries due to the repetitive nature of the sport. The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport highlights that overuse injuries, such as stress fractures and tendinitis, can result from excessive training and inadequate rest. Proper training regimens, appropriate rest periods, and listening to one’s body are vital to prevent overuse injuries.

Understanding the potential risks in soccer allows players, coaches, and parents to take appropriate measures to ensure safety. Implementing proper training techniques, maintaining adequate fitness levels, using protective gear, and promoting fair play contribute to a safer and more enjoyable soccer experience. Additionally, recognizing the signs of injury and seeking timely medical attention can help prevent further complications.

Swimming, Pools

Swimming is a popular recreational activity and competitive sport enjoyed by millions worldwide. While it offers numerous health benefits and is considered a low-impact activity, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers associated with swimming, especially in pools. Let’s explore some numbers and facts regarding the safety risks involved:


Drowning is a significant concern when it comes to swimming. According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths worldwide, with the highest rates among children aged 1 to 4 years. Constant supervision, adherence to safety protocols, and teaching swimming skills from an early age are crucial in preventing drowning incidents.

Pool Accidents

Pools can present various hazards, leading to accidents and injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 4,500 individuals in the United States require emergency department treatment each year due to non-fatal pool-related injuries. These injuries can occur from slips, falls, diving accidents, or collisions with other swimmers.

Equipment Malfunctions

Faulty or improperly maintained equipment can pose risks in swimming pools. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates that thousands of injuries occur annually due to pool equipment malfunctions, such as pool drains, diving boards, or slide accidents. Regular inspections, maintenance, and compliance with safety standards can minimize the potential hazards associated with pool equipment.

Waterborne Illnesses

In certain cases, swimming in contaminated water can lead to waterborne illnesses. The CDC reports that recreational water illnesses, such as diarrhea and skin infections, can be contracted from swimming pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds. Proper pool maintenance, water treatment, and following hygiene practices can help reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses.


What is the Most Dangerous Sport by Death?

Answer: Based on available data, the sport with the highest number of fatalities is typically considered to be mountaineering or rock climbing. The extreme nature of these activities, involving treacherous terrains and unpredictable weather conditions, contributes to the inherent risks involved.

What Sport is Least Dangerous?

In terms of overall safety, sports such as swimming and golf are generally considered to be among the least dangerous. These activities have lower rates of severe injuries and fatalities compared to high-impact contact sports or extreme sports involving significant risks.

Is Football More Dangerous Than Boxing?

While both football and boxing carry inherent risks, studies indicate that football has a higher incidence of overall injuries, including concussions. However, it is important to note that boxing poses a higher risk of severe head injuries and long-term neurological damage due to repeated blows to the head.

Is Golf a Dangerous Sport?

Golf is generally considered a low-risk sport in terms of injuries. However, like any physical activity, there is still a potential for accidents and minor injuries, such as strains, sprains, or golf-related mishaps. Adhering to proper safety measures and using caution can help mitigate these risks.

Is Boxing a Dangerous Sport?

Yes, boxing is widely recognized as a dangerous sport due to the high risk of head injuries, including concussions, and long-term neurological damage. The repetitive nature of punches and the absence of protective headgear in professional boxing contribute to the inherent dangers associated with the sport.

What is the Most Dangerous Sport for Females?

Based on available data and research, one of the most dangerous sports for females is gymnastics. The high-intensity movements, demanding physical exertion, and the potential for catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord or head injuries, contribute to its risk. Other sports with relatively higher risks for females include soccer and basketball due to the potential for collisions and ligament injuries.

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